We are back with the second part of our four part for the letter P, with a range of silent films, animation, fantasy horror and slashers we have a bit of everything in this one. Lets get into it…
Even if you have never seen Predator, you will undoubtedly have heard of half of the lines from the film. The 80s were a wonderful time, where we got so many genres, but getting the macho men getting slashed to pieces by an alien is up there with the most joyous. Where films take their time to get to the meat of the story, Predator throws that all to the side. We get a brief idea of who these characters are and some scope of why these mercenaries are going into this “jungle”. Then bang violence. An utter blast (literally), with fantastic deaths littering the film that was so good they copied half of them in the sequels and prequel. Not a film you will ever regret watching.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo del Toro knocks another one out of the park. When he is on it, goodness does the richness of his films pour out of the screen. Is Pan’s Labyrinth his best film? Perhaps. The sadness he illicit in this film crushes your soul, and his love for practical effects allows the film to feel as real as possible and like it is all a wondrously horrid dream. It is a fantasy horror that engrosses you with its fairy tale nature. There is a level, both visually and narratively, to Pan’s Labyrinth that we rarely get to see.
You can watch Phantasm and kind of forget almost most of what happened in that wonderful little weird film. What you do remember, though, is The Tall Man; he is inescapable in your memory, a creepy looming menace in your thoughts. The other thing is a sudden fear of shiny spheres at head height. A film that spawned off some admirably solid sequels, Phantasm is that sci-fi horror that you can just sit and enjoy. Sometimes, you get lost regarding the story, but that is probably due to the filmmakers having to cut out around half of the film to get to under 90 minutes.
Do you want a horror to make you squirm for a bit? Then Pulse is the film for you. It is a Japanese ghost story that takes its time before gradually revealing each important piece of information. The focus on isolating our main character really gets under your skin with how accurate it feels. With everyone having to isolate due to the pandemic, Pulse is a film that will hit home a little harder than you would like it to. Which, if we are honest, is what you want in great horror, barely a jump scare, just a never-ending sense of dread, simply wonderful.
Utterly fantastic, a film that does not get the notoriety that it deserves for how much it disturbs and affects you. In a film that starts off normal, Anna and Marks marriage is on its last legs, and she makes the decision to ask for a divorce in a still-divided Berlin. From there, what should almost be a something like Marriage Story turns into a film more akin to AntiChrist. Our characters’ lives take such a brutal, violent spiral that will have you asking yourself what on Earth you just witnessed by the film’s end. Do zero research into the film before watching; it will make what happens throughout even more shocking and unforgettable. If you have not had the chance to catch Possession, correct that as soon as you can.
The Plague Dogs (1982)
A tragic animated adaptation from the same author of Watership Down, this is another animation that should be kept well clear of the children if at all possible. The Plague Dogs is a gut-wrenching viewing experience about two dogs used for experiments who escape and just try to be free in a world that has little care for them. As the film goes on, you realise just how moved you are for these two dogs; that is the strength of Martin Rosen’s direction. There are two cuts, but make sure you are able to watch the longer 103-minute version so you can experience the film as intended. It is a damn shame that we do not get meaningful adult animations like The Plague Dogs anymore, it is a sign of what is possible to tell your story in a far more freeing manner than live-action.
The Pact (2012)
An underrated horror thriller that utilises atmosphere to the fullest extent possible. Nicholas McCarthy’s feature debut keeps along the lines of most ghost/haunting style films but knows how to step out from the crowd a bit more with its strong narrative. If a film, especially a horror is, from the start, well written, then you are usually onto some form of a winner. The Pact does well at creeping under your skin while keeping you on the edge of your seat. A film that all comes wonderfully together in the last act.
A Page of Madness (1926)
At its core, A Page of Madness is a nightmarish love story, a film about a man who wants to be his loved one, even if she is in an asylum. The way the film switches perspectives is so intriguing here. We do not just see things through the husband’s eyes; we see what his wife sees in her broken mind. The film has us from the opening scene of seeing the dancer on stage until that slow pull back to bars being in the way until the truth that she is imagining the stage and the music and is performing to no one but herself inside her cell as she dances until she bleeds, the music becoming more chaotic and finally collapses. The use of editing and the way in which Teinosuke Kinugasa forms his story and shows how fractured the minds of the inhabitants of the asylum are breathtaking. It may be almost 100 years old, but it still works magnificently. Though some of the film is lost to us now, the majority lives on and is shown at festivals. A psychological horror whose imagery lingers with you and a film that will have influenced many filmmakers who have seen it.
What you sometimes do not expect in a horror film that has scenes of torture is that it moves you emotionally. Telling two stories that merge into one about a surgeon who discovers he has cancer and a group of boys from The Spanish Civil War who are indefinitely confined to a monastery due to their inability to feel pain. Although you can telegraph it once the film kicks into its story, it doesn’t stop it succeeding in getting to you. Keeping it as a horror mystery works tremendously well, and Painless becomes a film that isn’t overly bothered about showing its influences. Not one that you should skip.
The Painted Skin (1966)
Taken from the Chinese 1740 short story about a demon who uses a human mask that she paints to get into people’s lives. This is one for fans of a helpful portion of melodrama to their horror film viewing experience, and as such, it is a bit of a slow build with the film ramping up in the final act. For the most part, this is a very static film that would have you think it was from 30 years earlier. But what we get is an effective film that allows for those more horrific moments to shine. A fun watch for those who like Asian melodrama.
Perfect Blue (1997)
Mima’s journey from loving her life in a J-pop girl band to trying to break out into the world of acting is as brilliant a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of trying to be famous than many other films could ever wish to be. Perfect Blue is the type of anime that has the hairs stand on the back of your neck as you witness the manipulation of the poor starlet. An intense film that perfectly builds paranoia in its dreamy-like fashion. Not only is this a gorgeous-looking anime, but it also has the story to back it up. Be warned, though, this tends to veer towards a lot of violence, especially of the sexual kind. Perfect Blue feels like it took little pieces from all the great genre filmmakers to give us this masterpiece in film, a truly essential watch.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
It is one of those films that you could put on at any moment and just know, even after countless watches, that you are just set for a great time. A timeless classic of a horror film from the 1940s, this Oscar Wilde adaptation is perfect from top to bottom. The production design is gorgeous, and the acting is top-notch. Everything about The Picture of Dorian Gray enchants you; a film with an overabundance of elegance, and with cinematography and direction like this, it becomes a film that you are not likely to forget anytime soon.
Stephen McHattie makes this film without a shadow of a doubt. What exceptional casting it was to have him as our radio DJ who is broadcasting at the beginning of a zombie apocalypse. This contained feature, which barely leaves the confines of the radio station, is a testament to excellent writing from Tony Burgess. It is such an interesting concept that you wonder why something like it hadn’t been done before simply because of how well executed it is. We are constantly kept in the dark during this thriller, which only heightens our senses as although we can see things happening, there is so much focus on the sounds in this bleak film. A criminally under-rated film that even has a 50-minute radio play, which is just as fantastic. Be sure to catch both.
Here, we have a fantastic concept and almost nails the landing to be a classic, but there are sticking points within Pandorum’s script that it struggles with. Couple that with a slightly over-enthusiastic piece of editing, and you have a film that ends up being good instead of great. Ben Foster is all go here, and you are engaged with the story. Of course, it borrows heavily from other science fiction films, but it remains a film that will take you by surprise and be a lot more entertaining than you would expect, with some great moments splattered throughout.
Another that you would file as not exceptional, however very entertaining. P2 confines itself to a car park setting and brings us all those cat-and-mouse thrills that you would expect. If a film can have you legit fear for the life of its main character, then it has succeeded, which is all you can look for in a horror thriller. Here we are all the way committed to Angela getting away from her Christmas Eve stalker that uses some sense instead of being all the way out there unbelievable. No magic fighting skills are present here, oh no. Objects like fire extinguishers and the obvious cars are here to help our protagonist. A film that delivers everything that you would expect it to without overly rocking the boat. With those instances of extremely heavy gore, P2 is a bit of a surprise.
A mathematician tries to search for the key number that will unlock all the patterns we find in the world. Okay, not the best or most thrilling of synopsis”, yet Darren Aronofsky’s Pi revels in its paranoia, in its obsession. Unsettling and tense, you are constantly on your toes due to our lead schizoid personality. You are rarely at ease here. A film that you could struggle with keeping attention to with how Aronofsky structures it, there is so much more here that makes it a required viewing. Made for a tiny $60,000, he manages to create a piece of magic here and show us the filmmaker he was about to become.
To check out our previous letters have a click below! Come back for Part Three, we have some crackers left to go over.
I am but a small website in this big wide world. As much as I would love to make this website a big and wonderful entity that would bring in more costs. So for now all I hope is to make Upcoming On Screen self sufficient enough to where any website fees are less of a worry for me in the future. You can support the website below…
You can support us in a variety of ways (other than that wonderful word of mouth) and those lovely follows. If you are so inclined to help out then you can support us via Patreon, find our link here!. We don’t want to ask much from you, so for now we have limited our tiers to £1.50 and £3.50. These will of course grow the more we plan to do here at Upcoming On Screen.
Our other method if through the wonderful Buy us a Coffee feature, but seeing as we are not the biggest fans of coffee, a pizza will do! We keep it fairly small change on that as well and it allows you to give just a one off payment, so no need to worry about that monthly malarky! We even have a little icon on the website for you to find it and help us out with the running of the website.